Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Monday vowed to detain and deport tourists at airports if they are suspected of links to terrorism.
Addressing a rally in the run-up to local elections on March 31, Soylu, a critic-turned-supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said it would no longer be possible to act like a traitor overseas by attending events of terrorist organizations targeting Turkey such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and then come and enjoy vacation resorts in the country. In addition to the PKK, the government often accuses the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of supporting terrorism, jailing its local and national officials.
After the minister’s remarks sparked outrage among tourism investors in Turkey and abroad, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had to issue a statement on Tuesday claiming that all tourists are welcome. “Turkey will continue to welcome tourists coming from all over the world with hospitality,” the the Foreign Ministry said, as reported by the Turkish media. The ministry accused the German media of spreading a “baseless allegation.”
Germany sends the largest number of tourists to Turkey after Russia. German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr said at a press conference on Thursday that “the Turkish interior minister’s remarks are obviously unnecessary at the moment and serve nothing.” Adebahr also warned German citizens that the exercise of freedom of expression operates differently in Turkey than in Germany. (SCF with turkishminute.com)